Oh, stress . . . we all deal with it at some point and it can be hard to avoid, especially during big moments in our lives. Did you know that our bodies can’t differentiate between perceived stress and real stress? Meeting that deadline, sitting in traffic, being a caretaker, and any other stressors can cause our bodies to go into “stress mode” just as much as being attacked by wild animals of our hunter-gatherer past.
The bad news, unfortunately, is that chronic stress has been shown to be linked to a leading cause of death in addition to disease and accidents.
The good news is that perceived stress can be lessened with or without professional help and signs of stress can be spotted through the symptoms and reactions of our bodies. How amazing that our bodies can give us signs that something is out of balance?
At this year’s annual esthetician workshop, we scratched the surface of looking at hormones through an esthetician lens and seeing the skin as a window into our bodies and how we can regulate our hormones with plants. Let’s take a closer look at the stress hormone, cortisol - how it affects our skin and how to use Botnia to balance your body back into homeostasis.
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone in your body that is produced in the adrenal glands which are small triangle-shaped glands located on the top of both of your kidneys. Our bodies produce different types of hormones to regulate different parts of our systems to keep our health running in tip top shape. When our hormones are in balance, we feel good, our skin is glowing, and everything runs smoothly. When our hormones are out of balance, our bodies give us signs (shown as symptoms) that something is off. If you catch imbalances early enough, you can prevent greater disease from happening in your body.
When you’re stressed, the body produces a higher amount of cortisol to help your body deal with the situation you’re facing, keeping you alert, and helping you to avoid danger (fight or flight mode). When your body is under stress for long periods of time (also called chronic stress) and in high alert mode constantly, it will eventually take a toll on your skin and body.
“Your body is a garden. Your adrenal glands act as both the gardener and the irrigation system.” -Justine Kahn, Botnia founder
Cortisol and the skin
High levels of cortisol can present itself in and on the skin in a few different ways. You may see increased oil production, thin skin under the eyes, broken capillaries around the cheeks, inflamed red patches, premature aging, increased sensitivity in the skin, and your skin may heal much more slowly if wounded. If you already have acne, eczema, or psoriasis, you may notice a worsening of these skin conditions.
“What is your skin trying to tell you? Often the skin is a metaphor for deeper issues and a way for your body to send up a red flag to warn you that all is not well underneath.” – Dr. Judyth Reichenberg
Plant-based skin remedies for high cortisol
If you’re feeling stressed or know that you have chronic stress, it’s a great time to reach out to your medical or health practitioner and work with a professional to offer you care. Holistic ways to bring down stress include breathing exercises and meditation, exercising, and using your diet to help regulate your hormones.
As far as using Botnia topically to remedy any symptoms you notice on the skin, self-care with skincare is a great way to soothe your senses and get in touch with your body.
To add in an extra element or two to help your body soften and reduce stress, pour yourself a cup of chamomile tea and play some soothing tunes during your skincare routine to further help you unwind and bring your body and mind into a more balanced state.
Cleansing: Taking extra time to give your skin a gentle massage while you cleanse is a great way to stimulate and circulate the blood flow in your skin. This helps to move stagnant lymph and energy in your skin. Both our Gentle Cleanser and Balancing Oil Cleanser have calming chamomile in the formulation, a nervine that helps to nourish and support the central nervous system, especially for those who are feeling stressed. Just the scent alone can give you a sense of relaxation in your body. Spend a whole minute really working in the cleanser, gently massaging your face, neck, and decollete.
Masking: Using our powdered masks is a great way to relax and treat the skin to soothing botanicals when feeling stressed. Thanks to chamomile in both our Kale Mask and Flower Mask, its antioxidant and calming properties will help take away redness in the skin when applied topically. When combined with Essential Enzymes as a base, the pomegranate enzymes help to protect the skin from environmental damage and support skin cell regeneration.
Ending your routine with Replenishing Facial Oil which is infused with lavender and chamomile flowers can really help to bring calm to your senses. Take time to really massage in the oil and nourish your skin. If you have time, adding in more gentle massage, lymphatic drainage, or gua sha can give you a boost of serotonin (the feel-good hormone) that helps to relax your body from high cortisol levels.
Hormones are powerful messengers that regulate many of our bodily processes and greatly impact our skin. As estheticians, we see the skin as a window into the body and we know healthy skin requires more than just topical remedies - it needs a holistic approach. Working with both your health care professionals and estheticians is a way to help bring your body back into balance.